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This post is focused on giving you my 3 steps in establishing new mental pathways that are loving, positive, helpful not only for your recovery, but it is essential for your life. This is super important as your thoughts manifest your life. What you think, causes you to feel and act a certain way.
In order to have a life that is filled with love, joy, hope, kindness, peace, we need to think of thoughts that are lovely, joyful, hopeful, kind and peaceful.
This process will literally break down the neurons in your mind that are not helpful to you, wire them out of you brain, and grow new ones.
With practice, you’ll be an expert in your becoming your own thought neurosurgeon! Groovy right?
Once I had acknowledge that the thinking pattern that I had been operating on for the past 10 years was not helpful to my health, the next thing I did was I surrendered my thoughts.
I asked God, ‘Help me and reveal to me a better way of thinking.’
God to you might be the Universe, your Inner Guide, your Soul, Spirit, Higher Power, Divine…
Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find.
As I surrendered, a lot of negative thoughts came up at this point, which sounded very vicious. A lot of it sounded like, ‘You stupid you, how could you let yourself into this horrible state? There’s not a chance of recovery?! You’ve been like this for the past 10 years, there’s no hope.’
For the first time, I chose to not listen. I chose to not give power to those negative thoughts that have had a negative force in my life and instead chose to believe that I was created to be healthy, happy, and have a significant purpose to live for. And you do too!
Have an open mind and believe that if something is not working for you that there is a better way of going about it. As soon as you believe this, it will be revealed to you.
1. What are you thinking? Understanding your conscious / unconsciousness thoughts
You think every single second of the day. A majority of these thoughts are the same from the day before because we are habitual people. The more we operate in thinking in these thoughts, the stronger the thought neuron is in our mind. However, many of these we don’t realize what we are actually thinking and only feel their effects. That’s because the thought neuron has gone from our consciousness to our level of unconsciousness. It’s similar to when you first started learning how to ride a bike. At first you had to consciously think of how to put your feet into the pedals of your bike and how you would have to pedal and coordinate your hands and feet so that you can balance in riding it. This is because riding a bike was a new exercise for you. After practice, you no longer have to think about it anymore, and you can simply hop on and ride with ease. Your skill of bike riding has gone from your conscious mind to the unconscious.
It’s one of the reasons why I was stuck in a cycle of stress, anxiety, fear, worry, control for 10 years however was unaware of it. I could feel the effects of it, but didn’t really know where it was coming from. That’s because I had been operating on the same thinking pattern for such a long time, that it has gone to the level of my unconsciousness. What I thought about most finally manifested in my physical body as anorexia.
See this post where I talk about my story of how Ana took over my life and the importance of allowing yourself to feel to letting it heal.
I want you to know that to constantly feel stress, worry, fear, anxiety, or sadness is not our natural way of being. Our natural way of being feels good, life is flowing with happiness, love, joy, vibrancy, and health!
2. Seeing your ‘stream of consciousness’
After understanding the anatomy of your thoughts. I want you to cultivate this visualization practice that I have found to be very helpful.
Imagine you are standing in a luscious rainforest, where the sunlight is streaming through the leaves. Right in front of you is a long and winding stream. You can hear the sound of the water as it moves and splash and touch the rocks and pebbles in the stream. You see some fish that hop in and out of the river. As you walk following the stream, you see that at the end the stream separates into two.
One path flows into a bigger winding river where it is surrounded by beautiful colourful flowers, trees. The atmosphere is so peaceful and magnificent that you feel drawn to follow that path and sit beside the river, touch the grass and dip your toes into it.
The other path flows into a green, grey, murky stagnant bubbling pool that is surrounded by weeds, bogs, and dead trees.
Which path would you follow? The choice is completely yours.
The thoughts that you think is the water of the stream. You are continually thinking, but your thoughts are not who you are. Who you are is the observer of the stream. It is only the thoughts that we choose to think repeatedly that become a part of who are. Dr. Leaf’s study says that it takes 48 hours for a thought to become a part of our mind.
The green, grey, murky stagnant pool did not simply appear, same with the river surrounded by beautiful colourful flowers, trees. It appeared over a long period of time.
3. Mindfulness: Seeing your stream without judgment
As we observe our thoughts both the negative and positive, the key here is to see without judgment. Seeing without judgment means no harsh criticism to your thoughts or to yourself.
Some experts have called this the practice of being mindful.
At Carnegie Mellon University, Angela Ng an engineering student took this mindfulness practice to heart and created The Mindfulness Room, a cozy room on campus filled with fluffy pillows, a hanging garden, and books. The room is intended to be space where students can come to take a break from their studying, to relax, and simply BE with themselves.
To help you in your practice, you can follow The Mindfulness Room on Facebook or Instagram @TheMindfulnessRoom. They post quotes, and helpful sayings that help you be in tune with your thoughts and help you be a mindful observer!
One of the things I did during my recovery was I set up a space in my flat similar to The Mindfulness Room. In this space, I put fluffy pillows, a blanket to keep me warm, goals that I wanted to achieve from recovery and my journal. It was a space for me to simply BE and observe my stream of consciousness. Sometimes I would put on some relaxing music to help me tune in. If any negative thoughts came up, I would simply take notice and let it go.
Initially when I began this practice, I would be very judgmental to my own thoughts and get into a vicious cycle of, ‘how can you even think of such things?? That’s horrible of you.’ The irony of this is that thought itself is a negative thought. As I continued practicing and visualize any negative thought going into the murky stagnant pool and out of my mind, these judging thoughts lessen.
Sometimes when we have been stuck in a particular thought cycle that is vicious and you find it difficult to break through, it’s perhaps these thoughts have been with you since childhood. When we are a child we are largely unconscious of how we interpret events. Perhaps it was a traumatic, or hurtful event that caused you to hone into the negative thought. Repeated thinking of the event / thought over the years has cemented the thought into the unconscious mind. We end up feeling , ‘not good enough,’ or feeling, ‘that we are damaged or need to be fixed,’ or, ‘need saving.’ The feeling could be so strong that we feel engulfed, or safe thinking in this pattern because it lets us go of having the responsibility of taking care of our own health. We end up nursing that inner child that was hurt and holding on to her. Instead we need to help that inner child grow into the beautiful person that we are meant to be.
Making a space like The Mindfulness Room in your room or flat would help you train your thought muscle in growing positive loving thoughts.
I recommend to simply observing your thoughts as they come and not judge them. There’s no right or wrong to this exercise. It’s about letting any thoughts that do not make you feel good go and honing into the thoughts that uplift you. Writing down the thought that you want to work on also works really well. I find that writing it down allows me to really work through the thought and see where it originated from.
Remember to stay with your breathing as you practice!
The more you practice being mindful, the easier it gets. Observing your thoughts and wiring out any thoughts that are not helpful to you will become automatic as this neuron will become an unconscious habit. I recommend practicing upon waking or before going to bed, as it is during these times that your unconscious mind is most active.
If you get stuck into a negative thought and can’t find your way back to the positive. Take a deep breath and surrender your thought.
Help me & reveal to me a better way of thinking.
Ask yourself, how can you see this thought or situation in a more loving and positive way?
The 3 steps to becoming your own thought neurosurgeon!
- What are you thinking? Understand your conscious / unconscious thoughts
- Be Mindful: seeing your thought stream without judgment
- Practice your Positive thinking!
It’s over to you!
Do you have your own practice of how you become a mindful observer of your own thoughts? How has it helped you? Keep me up to date too with your own Mindfulness practice. I would love to know! Leave a comment below or Tweet at me @thewellnesstogo or on Instagram @wellnesstogo .
This Be Fre(ed) series is dedicated to helping those of you who may be struggling with food, or body image, or feel trapped in their minds with negative / harmful thoughts that may be weighing you down.
I want to get to know YOU more, what are some of the struggles that you have with food or body image? If you are recovering from an ED, what are some of the difficulties that you have been encountering?
Feel free to comment below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me via Instagram @wellnesstogo, Facebook, or Twitter @thewellnesstogo. I read every single email, or comment that comes through and will answer to your questions! I am here to serve you so that you can find food, body, and mind freedom, and be the healthiest, happiest and most loving version of yourself!